THE “ABBA” THAT CARES!

    HOMILY FOR THE 12TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME (YEAR A)/ FATHER’S DAY

                                     Rev. Fr. Boniface Nkem Anusiem Ph.D.

Once upon a time, I sat watching some kids having a conversation about their daddies. One said that his dad could drive any big truck. The second replied, saying that driving a big vehicle is nothing compared to a train which his dad could drive. The third child could not hold his peace as he claims that his dad could navigate a big ship. The fourth child challenged his peers as he places his father in the air as a pilot.

In their midst, however, was a fifth child who could not say a word. I was puzzled by his unusual silence, which I took to be a sign of modesty. But I discovered later that his father passed when he was a baby. He was in the right company, right place, but the topic was not right for him because he had no dad.

Daddy’s are often the first heroes for most children. Maybe I had the same idea that my dad was the strongest man in the world, and he could do anything and that no one, including death, can defeat him. But that was wrong, our daddies are mere humans subject to weaknesses and failures, and they are not all-powerful as we thought as kids. But most dads are great; most of us would attest to this fact.

Understanding the Real Essence of Fatherhood

It is an overly sweet coincidence that we are reflecting on God as a caring Father on Father’s Day. There would be the need for us to explore the real essence of fatherhood; in other words, we shall be looking at what father’s do that would make them deserve the name. To achieve this, we shall use the fatherhood of God as a perfect example.

Before we go on with the essence of fatherhood, there would be a need for us to understand what fatherhood entails. Who is a father, and what are the functions of a father?

The Hebrew rendering of the word “father” is “abba,” which shows a close relationship that involves profound care. So, a father is not just someone who had a child with a woman, but one who is intentionally and proactively involved in the integral growth and development of the child.

The idea of God as “abba,” in other words, daddy, is the sense that our Lord Jesus Christ used the word during his agony in the garden (Mark 14:36), as well as St. Paul when he was talking about the Spirit of adoption to sonship that helps us call God “abba” (Romans 8:15).

The scripture is replete with indicators of God as Father.  The Book of Deuteronomy (32:6) calls Him the Father, who creates, forms, and protects. Isaiah (63:16) says God is our Father and redeemer. The Book of Psalms (103:13) calls God a compassionate Father, and Psalm (68:5) calls Him the father of the fatherless and judge for the widow. We all could remember that our Lord Jesus always referred to God as Father, and in the prayer, he taught his disciples he enjoined them to approach him as “Our Father” (Matthew 6:9).  

Caretaking: The Hallmark of “Abbahood”

We are conversant with the word “caretaker,” which refers to someone who has a relationship of care over something, someone, or some people. By functionality, a caretaker could also be called a father. In the Book of Genesis (45:8), Joseph told his brothers that God brought him to Egypt and made him the Father of Pharaoh by being the caretaker of his household and the entire land of Egypt.

Fatherhood would be preposterous without care. In the First Reading today (Jeremiah 20:10-13), prophets recounts God’s protective care as a loving Father against the intrigues of his enemies and persecutors.

In the Gospel today (Matt: 10:26-33), our Lord Jesus reveals the profound nature of God’s daddy-care over us. He tells us not to be afraid because He would take care of the essential part of our being, namely our souls. Our Lord says that everything about us is personally known to God as he knows the end of everything from the beginning (Is. 46:10). He knows the number of hairs on our heads.

Moving Forward: Every Father should “CARE.”

Fathers are timeless and precious. A world without fathers is unimaginable. We appreciate all fathers today. When we take a look into the sacred scriptures, we see that most great friends of God were fathers starting from Abraham through whom God raised a holy nation for himself.

Like we established earlier, merely fathering a child does not qualify anyone to be a father. Every father must be a daddy in the biblical sense of “abba,” which entails giving care. So, every father to qualify as one should be able to CARE. We are using the word CARE here as an acronym, and it means the following:

Compassionate: Without compassion, a father would not be able to maintain a connection with his child or children. Every father should be as compassionate as God.

Availability: God is not only able but also very much available. At large, fathers fall short of an essential duty. You cannot underestimate the power of being present.

Responsibility: If you look closely, you can see that the word responsibility is a combination of two words, “response and ability.” So it means the ability to respond to the needs of the family, which is not limited to physical needs.   

Encouraging: Every father should provide the facility of encouragement for the family. Fathers encourage by teaching, especially with good examples from their lives.

We thank God for the gift of fatherhood as we renew our faith and trust in His failing care over us. As we celebrate Father’s day and congratulate our fathers, we also urge them to pay attention to the demands of an ideal father, the one they give CARE.

God bless you and have a blessed week ahead.

Fr, Bonnie.

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